New York Rangers (37-38-10) @ New York Islanders (25-20-10)
When: February 16th, 2107
Where: Barclays Center, Brooklyn, NY
Time: 7:00 PM EST
TV: MSG+2 (Brendan Burke, Butch Goring)
Radio: AM 970, WRHU 88.7 FM and WRCN 103.9 FM (Chris King, Greg Picker)
Well folks, it’s that time again. It’s rivalry night in New York. The Islanders return home to take on their cross-town rivals, the New York Rangers at Barclays Center tonight. The Rangers are red hot. They come in having won six straight, and nine of 11. The Isles are coming off an embarrassing dismantling at the hands of the Maple Leafs. Under Doug Weight however, they are a very good 8-3-2. The Islanders currently sit in 10th place, tied with the Panthers, three points behind the Leafs for the final Wild Card spot in the East. The Rangers are holding down the first Wild Card spot, bu they are just two points behind Pittsburgh for second place in the Metro Division.
This rivalry game may mean a lot to the Rangers, as they would love to avoid the first place Canadiens in the first round of the playoffs, but it means a lot more to the Isles, who are scratching and clawing their way back after a rough start. This is a critical stretch for the Isles, as there are just five games before the trade deadline. The way the Islanders finish this stretch will determine what they do before March 1st. The Isles cannot afford another poor performance this evening.
Thomas Greiss will start for the Isles in goal again, after having a rough go of it against the Leafs. In his defense, the defense was nothing short of atrocious. Way too many defensive lapses, and neutral zone breakdowns led to chance after chance against a helpless Greiss.
The lineup will stay the same up front, the only change is that Scott Mayfield, who is a little more on the physical side, will replace Adam Pelech in the lineup. It does appear that Cal Clutterbuck could return by Saturday, as he was skating this morning. Travis Hamonic also skated this AM, but he may be a little further away.
“These games always have that playoff feel,” John Tavares said this morning. “Tonight’s a big game for many reasons & it’s always a lot of fun playing the Rangers.”
A win tonight would certainly go a long way towards helping an Isles team that has a daunting task ahead of it. In the next 8 days, including tonight, the Islanders play five games, all vital games against Eastern Conference foes, and three of them on the road.
The Islanders and Rangers are 1-1 in the season series thus far. It’s been more than two months since their last matchup, when the Islanders beat their rivals 4-2 at MSG.
The Rangers have never won a game at Barclays Center, let’s hope tonight the Isles can keep the streak alive.